Using Viktor Shklovsky

My hero.

[This post began as a response to some comments made by Douglas Storm on Amber’s most recent post.]

The name “Viktor Shklovsky” comes up a lot at this site (I’m guilty of mentioning it in perhaps half of my posts), and one might wonder why the man and his work matters. Below, I’ll try and lay out what Viktor Shklovsky has done for me, and what he might be able to do for you, too! Because Shklovsky might be the single most interesting and, above all else, useful critic I’ve ever encountered…

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re: Jimmy Chen’s (very funny) obit for this site, and some comments made there by my friends Tadd Adcox and Rebekah Silverman, not to mention Big Other’s recent one-year anniversary, I thought I’d take some time and a post to perform some autocritique. (I grew up on the campus of the University of Scranton, among the Jesuits.)

When John invited me to write at Big Other last December, my first impulse was to decline, because I didn’t think that I’d have anything interesting to say. I’ve been reading blogs periodically since the late 90s (mainly political ones), and while I value the form for various reasons, I never thought I’d want to try doing it myself. But then John said I could write literary criticism in lieu of more traditional posts, and I recalled that I wanted to try doing some analysis of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, so I said I’d give it a go.

And I’m extremely happy that I did, because I’ve discovered that I do, in fact, have a tremendous amount to say (probably too much, in fact). And so my posting here has awakened something inside me—before this past year, I’d never written any artistic or cultural criticism—I didn’t even think I was capable of doing it. (I just wrote fiction and poetry.)

So I’m extremely grateful. That said, I’m also unhappy in multiple ways with my writing here, and I want to take the time to identify those problems, and attempt to correct them…

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